How the corporate media whitewashes Ukraine

Cities in eastern and southern Ukraine have become battlefields as the junta in Kiev has unleashed military and paramilitary thugs on the people of those regions.

At the same time the media, with its critical role in shaping public opinion, has also become one of the principal theaters in this ongoing conflict, with Western propaganda being one of the most potent weapons.

Seventy-three years ago this October, the infamous “Odessa Massacre” of 1941, which killed more than 30,000 Jews in the Ukrainian port city and surrounding areas, was carried out by Romanian fascist troops in collaboration with their Nazi patrons and allies. The pogrom, merely one of many against Jews and other minorities in Ukraine, is a stark historical reminder to the people of Odessa (and all those throughout the former Soviet Union who fought against fascism during the war) of the depravity, inhumanity, and barbarism of Nazis and their collaborators.

And now, 73 years later, Odessa is the scene of yet another horrific war crime carried out by fascists against innocent civilians. The fire and massacre at the Trade Unions building which killed dozens of anti-fascist activists and employees in the building, will serve as a painful testimony to the ongoing struggle against the junta in Kiev and its neo-Nazi paramilitary foot soldiers. This obvious war crime, along with a number of others committed by the Right Sector and other ultra-nationalist (read fascist) militias, should undoubtedly be the issue making headlines around the world.

And yet, it seems that somehow the slaughter of innocents, and the issue of criminal accountability for those who ordered and carried out the massacre, has been completely and systematically distorted and/or omitted from the Western narrative. Instead, the corporate media has deliberately attempted to obscure the true nature of the events of that day, and those leading up to and subsequent to it, in order to dilute the impact of the self-evident, and quite damning, criminality of the fascist militias and their leaders and patrons. By using subtle, coded language that deliberately minimizes the barbarism of the events and shifts blame from Kiev to Moscow, the mainstream Western media once again acts as the dutiful servant of the US-EU ruling establishment.

What they are saying (and not saying)

In examining the way in which the events in Odessa, and those that have taken place in other regions since May 1, have been portrayed, a few common features emerge. First and foremost is the language used to describe the anti-fascist demonstrators who made up the majority of the victims in Odessa. In a woefully dishonest and biased article published by Reuters entitled “Ukraine moving police special forces to control Odessa,” the authors utilize critical terminology such as “pro-Russian separatists” and“militants,” in fact using them interchangeably as a means of “branding” the activists as something other than peaceful Ukrainians demonstrating for their rights.

Naturally, the phrase “pro-Russian separatists” is entirely misleading on a number of levels. First, the anti-fascist, anti-junta activists (as they should rightly be labeled) are not separatists in the true sense of the word. They do not seek secession outright, but have been demonstrating for weeks in favor of a federalized Ukraine where the rights of Russian-speakers and other minorities would be respected and constitutionally guaranteed. They were demanding that their long-standing historical, familial, and economic ties with Russia not be severed by force of an illegal government in Kiev and its paramilitary shock troops. Far from being “separatists” these activists, scores of whom have already been killed, injured, and/or taken prisoner, have been standing up for a just and peaceful Ukraine instead of the ochlocracy brought about by the junta.

It is equally important to note the use of the word “militants” to describe the anti-junta activists. The implication of using such a designation has to do with assigning guilt to the serious crimes that have been committed. Essentially, by referring to the victims of the crimes as “militants,” this justifies the actions taken by Right Sector and other fascists by portraying them as necessary and just in the fight against the “pro-Russian militants.” Moreover, designating the activists as militants is an attempt to insulate the illegal government in Kiev from the obvious war crimes charges that they would face were the propaganda mouthpieces in the media actually reporting the story factually. And so, by using such terminology, the media is, in effect, providing political cover to a criminal regime backed by the West. This is certainly par for the course.

The same Reuters article focuses broadly on the move by the junta’s Interior Minister Arsen Avakov to create a new “special forces unit” to replace the Odessa police which, according to Avakov, committed an “outrageous” failure by releasing dozens of survivors who had been taken into custody and held as prisoners without receiving proper medical care. The article discusses Avakov’s statement about the creation of “Kiev-1,” a special unit made up of “’civil activists’ who wanted to help the Black Sea city “in these difficult days.’”

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